There are tons of sophisticated (and expensive) tools for graphic and motion design, but to get you started you don’t necessarily need them all. In today’s post I’ll share the basic and essential tools to begin with.
Basically in order to start learning motion graphic design, you gonna need three main things. First is the software, second is the hardware and third is your passion for motion graphics. Since you are reading my blog I will concentrate only on software and hardware parts of it assuming that the passion you already have.
At this stage, I concentrate all my learning on 2D animations. The best software provider available today for that matter is Adobe and Adobe After Effects in particular as the animation software. There are more options available such as Apple Motion, however, as Adobe subscriber, you’ll have access to more essential products such as Illustrator and Photoshop. And the best part is that with Adobe’s Creative Cloud service now literally anyone can afford this software for only $50 per month for all the software they have which is more than enough for a 2D motion designer. When I started learning animation in 2011 I purchased Adobe Master Collection CS5 paing $2600 as no CC was yet available back then.
In terms of hardware, as you can imagine, any modern computer will do for the start. If you are on limited budget, your current computer will probably do the job just fine. The only limitation is that it has to be a sterling computer and not some variation of Apple, Android or Windows based tablet. It must run a Win7, 8 or OSx, 64Bit operation system in order to be able to run the current Adobe software.
However, the more power your computer can provide, the smoother and more enjoyable the animation process will be. As I will concentrate in particular on Adobe After Effects the more RAM memory you install the better, the more powerful CPU the faster it will work. Adobe After Effects CS5 and later will use all your processors to render the animation which is called multiprocessor rendering. Which means if your computer has 4 cores and each core has 2 threads, After Effects will actually utilize all 8 threads for multiprocessor render. However, the more processors you use to render, the more RAM you gonna need. Your computer should be able to provide at least 0.75GB of RAM per thread/processor however it is better to assign even more RAM per processor. Adobe After Effects will allow you to assign up to 3GB of RAM per processor which makes 8 threads by 3GB equals 24GB of RAM just for the rendering. Additional 3-6GB needed to run the Windows/OSx and After Efects itself. Other computer parameters as GPU, “SSD vs HDD” will not add much to the After Effects performance.
I personally recommend to install at least 8GB (16GB better) RAM for 4 thread CPU (i5 and i7 laptops) or 16GB (32GB better) for 8 thread CPU (i7 desktop computers). However, 4GB computer will do the job as well, not as efficient though, as most of the CPU power won’t be used by After Effects when rendering and also the RAM preview duration will be quite limited.
Optionally if you use a laptop computer I recommend you to use a regular mouse as a pointing device. Adobe softwares usually has lots of small controls which are quite difficult to aim using a tracking pad of the laptop.
For my animation and graphic design work (which I will expend in my next post) I use a Lenovo x220 laptop with 8GB RAM installed. As I travel a lot, that is the best compromise on power versus mobility that I could find in the market. All of my work that you can find on my portfolio page created using this machine. As the laptop monitor is quite small, sometimes I use additional monitors when possible.
What software and hardware do you use for your graphic and motion design works? Share your setup in the comments below!